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Sage Hospitality’s Catbird hotel tops out in River North Art District

The hotel’s angular geometry makes it unique.

The Catbird hotel recently topped out at 3770 Walnut St. in Denver’s River North Art District. Sage Hospitality Group, Walnut Development Partners and EXDO Development are developing the hotel.

“Sage is thrilled to add the eclectic, expressive Catbird to our portfolio of independent hotel brands, and we look forward to creating a place in RiNo that will become a destination in and of itself,” said Walter Isenberg, CEO of Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group. “Along with our partners, our goal all along has been to curate a brand that adapts to the uniqueness of its neighborhood, and we believe that Catbird will be just that.”

Catbird’s 165 guest rooms, designed by DLR Group, will emphasize the comforts of home brought to life in a hotel: full kitchens with functional high-end house wares, storage and multifunctional furniture.

DLR Group’s design inspiration was built from the ethos of the surrounding River North Art District, according to DLR Group Senior Associate Stephanie Gearhart, NCIDQ.

“RiNo is abundantly blended in its architecture and style,” Gearhart said. “Industrial brick buildings from the past are neighbored by new, modern styles and vibrant uninhibited artwork to create a district that nods to its history yet feels lighthearted and electric.

“Pattern, color and architectural form combine in a charming, not so serious, way,” Gearheart said. “Specifically, the corridor and guest rooms artifacts, art and furnishings are inspired from many eras, creating a space that feels hand selected and collected over time, not purchased by a single source.” emphasis on both personality and

Catbird’s guest rooms feature artifacts, art and furnishings that are inspired from many eras.

Guests will be surprised by a handful of unique and hidden features within the guest room, Gearhart continued.

“A custom loft bed designed meticulously for maximum storage can be opened to reveal hidden wardrobe pullouts and a full-size desk when needed for work or dining within the room.” The loft bed is intended to create a separate bedroom zone within the room, further defining a space that feels true to home. The room’s sofa is also a modern sleeper bed for guests with larger groups, “or for deeply relaxing in the space,” she said. A small television is included in the kitchenette, and a semi-concealed projector and blackout roller shade provide guests with enhanced viewing of their favorite shows or movies.

“My favorite part of the interior design is the blending of bold expressions and strategic softness without the restraints of a specific design style,” Gearhart said. “The focus of this project was to make a space that felt like home. The emphasis on both personality and comfort is key and is instantly felt as guests enter the room.

“In addition, the unique utilization of space is impressive,” she said. Storage is intentional, and every drawer, kitchen cabinet, shelf and pullout closet unit has a specific purpose “so guests can easily move in whether they are staying for one night or three weeks.”

Paying homage to the history of the neighborhood around it, Catbird encompasses a 3,600-square foot, four-bedroom historic home, originally built in 1890, which has been preserved as part of the hotel. The spacious home will be updated with high-design, high touch amenities and décor and it will be available for guests to reserve.

“Our clients knew they wanted to keep the existing home from the very start,” said architect Shears Adkins Rockmore’s Dean Smith, senior associate. “The character and craftmanship would be impossible to replicate and the house actually became the inspiration for the hotel’s design. We embraced the existing home by wrapping the hotel around it and creating an open space next to it for the hotel entry.”

RiNo’s industrial character and flourishing art scene provided additional design inspiration, according to Smith.

“The hotel design embraces both of these aspects of the neighborhood,” Smith said. “Sculptures and mosaics are included so that every floor and almost every public space has some piece of art associated to it.”

As for his favorite part of the design, “The angular geometry of the site was a challenge, but in the end the form of the building makes it completely unique,” Smith continued. “We are excited about the engagement of the ground-floor restaurant with the sidewalk. This portion of RiNo is developing quickly and we believe this project will contribute to the public realm of the neighborhood.”

The hotel will be home to a gear locker stocked with bikes, skateboards, scooters, cameras and other items that will all be available for guests to borrow and use as they explore Denver. Amenities also will include package delivery lockers and a guest storage area where repeat guests can leave often-used items, and a dog run for man’s best friend. The hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center will feature a full complement of Peloton bikes, Peloton treadmills, water rowing machines, cross trainers and free weights.

The rooftop at Catbird will feature an indoor bar and an outdoor deck with lounge seating and fire pits. The rooftop also will be home to an additional 3,300-sf deck that will be dedicated to hosting corporate and social events.

Nine dot Arts will curate an extensive art collection as well.

“It’s truly exciting to be working together with our partners to bring such an innovative project to the RiNo Art District,” said Chad Ellington of Walnut Development Partners. “We truly believe that Catbird will become a favorite for the community and visitors to the neighborhood, and we can’t wait to welcome people through the doors.”

The overall concept for Catbird, including the amenities and food and beverage outlets, was curated and directed by the team at Sage Studio, a Sage Hospitality Group company.

“Sage has long been known as a leader in place making, brand creation and experiential hospitality,” said Jessica Werner, executive vice president of Sage Studio. “We recently saw the opportunity to give structure to that portion of our business; Sage Studio is where the magic starts.”

General construction has been led by Katerra Construction LLC and Farrington Construction Management. Lobby and rooftop interior design are being completed by Denver-based Swan Dive Design Studio.

Published in the Oct. 7-20, 2020, issue of CREJ.

Kris Oppermann Stern is publisher and editor of Building Dialogue, a Colorado Real Estate Journal publication, and editor of CREJ's construction, design, and engineering section, including news and bylined articles. Building Dialogue is a quarterly, four-color magazine that caters specifically to the AEC industry, including features on projects and people, as well as covering trends…